ENTRY #96 - AH

Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest

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Title: Promise Me

Picture Prompt Number: 15

Pairing: Edward and Bella

Rating: M

Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 9,991

Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation): Edward vows to stand by Bella through her leukemia treatments. When Bella decides to forgo the treatments for something more important, Edward has to either accept or let her go.

Warnings and Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all the characters involved. No copyright infringement intended.

Content Warning: Some content may be difficult for some to read due to sensitive subject matter. Please be warned you will need tissues.

The day my girlfriend, Bella told me she had cancer was probably the most devastating day of my life. I knew she hadn't been feeling well for a while and she didn't seem to be getting any better, but I never thought it would be cancer.

At first we both feared she might be pregnant so we got a test –actually 5 tests, and every single one came up negative. It was a huge relief since we were only sixteen and had just started having sex. We used protection every time though.

Her parents insisted she see a doctor and at first the doctor suspected she probably just had a virus. It needed it to run its course. After two months she didn't seem to get any better, she went back to the doctor to run more tests. She was scared and wanted me to go with her, but her dad wasn't fond of me and refused to let me come. Instead she brought along her best friend who was also my sister, Alice.

Alice and Bella had been best friends since I can remember. As kids we did everything together. Bella's dad didn't mind me being friends with her until the day we started doing things without Alice and made it apparent we weren't just friends anymore. I guess he thought she was too young to have a boyfriend and thought I would somehow break her heart. Her mom didn't mind me and actually welcomed me into their lives. She just wanted Bella and I to take things slow and not jump into things too fast like she did. It wasn't a big secret to anyone in our small town of Forks that Charlie and Renee Swan weren't exactly the happy, loving family they portrayed to be. Bella talked to me about it all the time. It hurt her when they would argue and say horrible things to each other when they didn't think she could hear. She told me how she wished they would just get a divorce so they could be happy but they never did.

My sister and my parents loved Bella and were happy we were a couple. My mom even joked how she always knew we would end up together. I think I always knew it too. I'd always kind of liked Bella more than just a friend, but I never acted on it until I was fourteen. That's when I finally got up the nerve to ask Bella to go with me to see a movie I knew she had been dying to see. I conveniently asked her on a day I knew Alice wouldn't be able to go. That first date didn't go exactly as I had planned. Bella assumed Alice was going too. But when my dad showed up to drive us to Port Angeles and it was just me in the back seat of the car with a single red rose, she seemed a little freaked out. She still went with me and enjoyed the movie but we barely talked to each other. She wasn't her normal carefree self like she usually was. I was sure I blew it that night. Not only did I think she didn't like me that way, but I thought I had lost a really good friend as well.

We didn't talk for about two weeks after that first date since things were still awkward. Then Alice forced us to go to a school football game together and I finally had a moment to talk to her. Bella admitted she was a little shocked at first and uncomfortable being with me alone, which hurt hearing. But then she said she wouldn't mind trying again if she knew what to expect beforehand. I started out slow and over the course of the two years we became not only each other's best friend but she was the love of my life.

I anxiously tapped my foot and stared at the clock on the wall while sitting through class. Even though we had planned to meet up after her doctor appointment, I still checked my phone obsessively hoping she would call me or at least text me letting me know how it was going. But I never got anything all day long.

After school, I rushed home and paced the floor in front of the window waiting for them to get back. After what seemed like forever I heard the familiar roar of her old truck coming up the road.

I rushed outside just as they were pulling in. Alice was driving while Bella sat in the passenger seat, which was odd to me. Alice hopped out and gave me this sympathetic half smile. I knew instantly something was seriously wrong. I walked around to the side of the truck and met Bella just as she was getting out. Her eyes were downcast, but I could tell she had been crying.

"What happened?" I asked. She forced a smile but still wouldn't look at me. Her hand rested against my chest and she tugged slightly at the front of my shirt with her fingers. Her head leaned forward and rested her forehead against my chest while I placed my hand on her arm and leaned down to kiss the top of her head. I wasn't sure what was wrong, but whatever it was we'd get through it.

"Bella?" Alice called. "Do you want to come inside and rest on the couch?" She shook her head against my chest without looking at Alice. My arms came up around her and held her closer to me. I could tell she was on the verge of tears but didn't want me to see it. Alice left us in the driveway and walked into the house.

I held Bella in my arms and rocked back and forth waiting for some sort of response. I didn't know what else to do. I just knew she needed to be held and reassured I was here for her.

"I want to go to the cabin," she blurted suddenly and looked up at me with reddened eyes.

"Are you sure? It's a long walk out there. "

"I'll be fine, Edward. I just need to go somewhere I feel safe."

I nodded my head in agreement and ran back inside to grab us thicker jackets. I placed the coat around her shoulders and guided her out through the trees. About a half-mile back behind our house was an old broken down cabin we all found as kids and turned into a playhouse. The wood of the cabin was so rotted it really wasn't safe to be inside of. Part of the roof had already caved in and it was covered in moss and overgrowth of plants. To anyone else it probably would have been the scariest site to see, but Bella loved it and declared it as "our place" when we started dating. Over the years we fixed it up a little and cleaned it out from all the overgrowth of brush. We brought old toys and memorabilia items out there to decorate with. This was the place I first kissed Bella, the first place I told her I loved her, and also the place we lost our virginity. This would always be a special place to us for so many reasons.

We walked slowly through the trees along the familiar path in complete silence. I supported her with my arm wrapped around her waist. It had been weeks since we went out to the cabin since she hadn't been feeling well. I hated even bringing her out there now but it's what she wanted.

When we reached the cabin, she stopped at the small step and sat down while looking at the ground. I sat down beside her and took her hand in mine. She smiled, looking down at our entwined fingers and rested her head against my shoulder.

"Do you remember when we first met?" she asked.

"Of course I do," I replied. "My mom babysat you during the day while your mom was going to school and your dad worked. You wanted to play with all my trucks in the sandbox instead of playing dolls with Alice and I'd get mad. I'd tell you to go play with Barbie's instead. You decided to take all the Barbie's you had, rip their heads off, and bury them in the sand so I had something to dig up with my trucks. I think that's when I first fell in love with you." She smiled and chuckled to herself lightly.

"I was a little eccentric as a child wasn't I?" she joked.

"Just as a child?" I countered in an equally joking tone. She shoved me playfully and giggled.

"Do you remember our first date?" she asked.

"The day I made a complete fool of myself and ended up thinking you hated me?" I retorted remembering the disastrous date.

"What about our first kiss? Or the day you told me you loved me for the first time?"

"I remember it all, Bella. I don't ever forget anything when it comes to you," I assured. I was trying to understand where all these questions were coming from, but I was still so confused.

She looked up at the sky and inhaled a large breath. "I have cancer." She blurted the words so fast yet so clearly. I felt as if someone had just punched me in the stomach.

"What?" I asked, barely able to get the word out through my shaky voice.

She licked her lips and bit her bottom lip before continuing. "The doctor thinks it's leukemia but I have to go to an oncologist in Seattle to get a confirmation. The doctor I saw today thinks we caught it in time to be able to treat it so I don't die, but he can't really give me any guarantee since he isn't an oncologist."

The tears burned my eyes at the thought of her dying. She couldn't die. She couldn't leave me. The only thing I kept thinking was how did this happen? She had always been so healthy and cared about others more than herself. How could this happen to someone so perfect? She didn't deserve this.

Her eyes rose to mine and I watched the tears fall down her cheeks like it was all happening in slow motion. "I'm scared, Edward," she cried. I didn't know how to respond or how to make it all better. I did the only thing I could think of to do. I wrapped my arms around and pulled her against my chest and openly cried with her.

We rocked back and forth wrapped in each other's arms until it was dark out. I forced myself to stand up and helped her to her own feet. I took both her hands in mine and rested my forehead against hers. "We'll get through this together. I'll be right by your side through every single step," I promised.

"I can't expect you to go through this with me. My dad isn't taking it well and he'll probably take out his frustrations on you. The doctor already warned me it's going to be tough. I'm going to be sicker than I am right now, I'll probably lose all my hair and maybe even my teeth. I'm not going to be the same person I am now. I'll be ugly."

"You will always be beautiful to me. Nothing will ever change that. I'll never stop loving you and I'm not leaving your side. I don't care what I have to do to prove to your dad I won't ever hurt you, but I'm not leaving," I assured. "I love you. Forever, remember?"

She nodded her head and let a few more tears fall. I wiped them away with my thumbs and kissed the top of her head before putting my arm around her waist and guiding her back to the house.

After she left, I talked to Alice who was just as upset as I was, but she did her best to hide it to comfort me. She had to tell our parents since I was too upset to say anything. They were both equally shocked and upset. I was told I could take as much time as I needed off from school to be there for Bella. I was thankful for that, because I wasn't planning to let her go through any of this alone. I loved her, so I had to be there for her.

I spent the night going back and forth from crying to being angry. I didn't sleep at all. When I got up the next morning my eyes were bloodshot and puffy. I didn't care though. I got ready for school just like I normally did. My parents questioned what I was doing since they were sure I would take some time off. I wasn't sure if I was going to school that day, I just planned to be wherever Bella was. I drove the short distance to her house and before I could even get out of my car, she was rushing outside. She threw her arms around my neck and cried. I knew what this hug meant. Her parents were fighting and she didn't want to be around to hear it. After hugging her back and comforting her so she would stop crying, I helped her into the car.

"Do you want go to my house or the cabin?" I asked. She shook her head and wiped at her eyes. "We could go into Port Angeles and see a movie or something?"

"I just need to go to school. I don't want to change anything just because I'm sick. I want to be normal. I want to go to school," she insisted.

"Okay," I agreed. I pulled out onto the road and headed towards school. I pulled up in front of the school and ran around the car to help her out. I grabbed our bags and wrapped my arm around her waist to guide her towards the building.

"Edward," she began, slowing her walk and stopping to look at me. I stopped and looked down at her with my arm still wrapped around her. "I don't want anyone to know. I don't want people to stare at me or feel sorry for me."

I nodded my head and pulled her closer into my side before leaning down and giving her a simple peck on the lips. "I won't say anything. We don't even know for sure yet, right?" She smiled and nodded her head in agreement before we walked the rest of the way into school.

I walked her to her class then headed to mine. A few people asked what happened to my eyes. I lied and said it was an allergic reaction. I think everyone bought it. I was so out of it from lack of sleep I didn't really care if they did or not.

After school Bella didn't want to go home, so I took her back to my house and she filled me in on what happened with her parents. Apparently it started out fine discussing the trip into Seattle to see the oncologist and trying to encourage Bella that she could get through it. But after a little while they started to argue about how best to handle Bella's diagnosis and treatment which eventually led into all the same issues they always argued about. The arguing continued throughout the night and into the morning. Neither one of them asked how she felt about what she was going through. It was all about what they wanted. I did what I could to comfort her and make her feel better. After a while she fell asleep in my lap. I brushed the hair off her face and watched as she smiled in her sleep. I sat there memorizing every single feature and remembering all the reasons why I fell in love with her.

When my parents got home hours later, I motioned for them to be quiet. Alice kept insisting I wake her up and take her home before her dad got home, but I couldn't. She looked so peaceful just lying in my lap. If I had my way, she would stay here with me forever and never have to go home to face her parents or face the possibility of leukemia. She could be safe right here with me.

Shortly after dark a car came roaring up our driveway and slammed on the brakes in front of our house. My heart stopped, knowing exactly who it was. Seconds later there was a pounding on the door so my dad went to answer it. I could hear Charlie's voice all the way into the living room. My dad did everything to get him to calm down but he burst into the living room to find Bella sleeping on my lap. I could see his jaw tighten when our eyes met.

"Mr. Swan," I began as calmly as possible. "She fell asleep. I didn't want to wake her. She didn't sleep much last night and she's exhausted."

"She needs to be home with her family so we can take care of her," he said. I could tell he was holding back from saying anything more to me.

"I'm trying to take care of her too," I insisted. "I don't like seeing her upset and everything that's going on has her scared. You and Mrs. Swan arguing right in front of her is hurting her."

His eyes narrowed and his jaw tightened once again. I could almost hear his teeth clenching together in his jaw. I wasn't going to back down though. He needed to realize what he was doing to her.

"What goes on in my house and with my family is no concern of yours, Edward."

"It is when it affects Bella. I'm not going to sit by and watch her cry day after day because her parents hate each other and can't even get along long enough to care about what she needs. She's scared to death right now and all either of you care about is what you want instead of what's best for her," I shouted.

I knew I probably overstepped my boundaries with Charlie, but I didn't care. If no one else was going to say it I would. Charlie didn't move or say a word. I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Bella stirred in my lap and opened her eyes to look up at me. Letting go of my anger for Charlie, I smiled down at her and brushed her flushed cheek.

"Edward, were you shouting?" she asked barely coherent.

"It's alright," I assured. She rolled over and noticed her dad standing in front of her. Her eyes grow wide and she instantly moved away from me.

"Daddy, what are you doing here?" she asked.

"It's time for you to go home," he answered in as calm a voice as possible. I stood up and scooped Bella into my arms. She started to protest for me to put her down but I didn't. I followed Charlie out to his car and helped Bella into the seat. I had never kissed Bella in front of her dad but that night after my outburst I felt a little braver than I should have. I placed my hand against her cheek and gently kissed her on the lips. I could hear Charlie groan from the driver seat, but I didn't care.

"I love you," I said, kissing her one last time on the forehead.

"I love you, too." Bella barely whispered the words loud enough to hear, but I heard it loud and clear.

I watched as Charlie drove away before I headed back into the house. My dad said he was proud of me for standing up for Bella, but I didn't think what I did was going to do any good. It didn't change the fact that Bella had leukemia.

Three days later Bella had to make the trip into Seattle. Like I promised, I was at Bella's house bright and early to go with her. I could tell Charlie wasn't happy to see me on their doorstep, but Bella gave him a warning look so he groaned and walked out to the car.

We spent the entire day in a doctor's office watching Bella have test after test ran and waiting around for the doctor to give us some answers. Bella was exhausted by the end of the day and while we waited to talk to the doctor she rested against my shoulder. I held her hands in mine and rubbed my thumb across her knuckles.

When we were finally called into the doctor's office to discuss the findings, it wasn't a big surprise. He confirmed the diagnosis of leukemia and recommended she start chemo immediately. He said there was a good chance she would be just fine. He listed the side effects and the risks involved with the medications he would be putting her on. Bella's parents never asked her what she wanted to do. They decided for her. It's not like Bella's decision would have been any different than theirs but it was as if she wasn't even in the room while they talked to the doctor.

The drive home was not only awkward but interesting too. As Bella slept on my shoulder, Charlie and Renee never said a word to each other during the entire three hour drive. When Charlie pulled into their driveway, I gently woke Bella up and helped her out of the car. Renee helped her into the house while I headed over to my car to go home.

"Edward," Charlie called out just as I was unlocking the door of my car. Hearing him say my name after so long of nothing but silence made me jump. I stopped and looked over at him. "Thank you for going with her. I see now how much she needs someone to lean on." I was utterly shocked. He had never said a nice thing to me since Bella and I started dating. All I could do was nod my head. "Are you planning to go with her when she has her first chemo treatment?" Once again I nodded my head, still in so much shock to even form words. He nodded his head in return and gave me a forced smile before turning around and heading towards the house. I stood there for a few moments longer before getting in my car and driving home.

For nearly eight months, I stood by Bella through every single treatment. The doctor set it up so she could receive her treatments at the local hospital in Forks instead of traveling to Seattle twice a week. Instead she only had to travel to Seattle once a month for checkups. We finished our sophomore year of school shortly after she started treatments so I spent almost all summer with her. When our junior year started, her teachers modified her workload so she could keep up. I even took the bare minimum of classes and decided to forgo the advanced placement classes I was supposed to take so I could focus more of my time on Bella. I watched her get sick and drop down to less than a hundred pounds. Her hair thinned to almost nothing and her face was sunken. Her eyes had dark circles and her skin was paler than it ever had been before. She looked like a ghost of herself.

I never missed one of her treatments though. I sat next to her and just held her hand so she never had to be alone. There were days I didn't think there was much more her body could take, but she amazed me every day by her strength.

Charlie suddenly didn't mind me coming over to spend time with Bella either. I stayed with her almost every night until I was told to go home by Charlie or Renee. I helped her with her homework and even brushed her teeth when she couldn't. When she was able to eat, I would help feed her. I would read her favorite books to her until she fell asleep. I did everything I could to make it easier on her.

I'm not sure if my loyalty to Bella made Charlie like me more or if it was something else entirely, but I suddenly got along better with Charlie than I did Renee. It's not that she disliked me, she just felt like I was doing everything for Bella and not giving her the chance to be a mom. I wasn't intentionally trying to take over. I just felt the need to take care of her. When you love someone you do everything for them when they need you. I knew if the situation was reversed Bella would do the same thing for me.

I was with Bella at the doctor's office when he finally gave us the good news that the cancer was undetectable and she was in remission. A huge weight was lifted off of all of us when we heard those words. I remember Bella and her mom crying. Even her dad shed a few tears. While Bella and Renee hugged Bella never once let go of my hand. I remember her squeezing my hand as tight as she could, which really wasn't very tight with how weak she was. All I could do was sit there, hold her hand and think about how I would never have to let her go again.

The doctor explained that it wasn't permanent. She was in what they refer to as remission. She still had to come in every three months to have testing done to make sure she stayed in remission. The longer she stayed in remission the more likely the disease wouldn't return.

She slept the entire way home and it went back to complete silence between Renee and Charlie. I had gotten so used to it I wasn't bothered by it any longer and actually preferred it.

After a couple more weeks of recuperating, Bella returned to school and started to get back to her normal life. She had color to her skin again and was able to do almost everything she had done before she got sick. Everyone was happy to see her return. She looked happy again. I had my Bella back. I stayed close to her and still helped her out when she needed me to. It seemed like things just went back to normal for everyone.

A month went by and everything was great. Bella was feeling so much better and we were stronger than ever. Even though this whole ordeal was difficult and put a huge strain on everyone, it seemed to bring all of us closer. I was allowed to spend more time with Bella, her parents weren't fighting as often, and for once, Bella was truly happy.

One day after school, Bella asked if we could go out to the cabin. At first, I tried to convince her it wasn't safe. No one had been out there since we found out she was sick, so I was sure it wasn't like it had been. For all we knew it could have collapsed after the rain storms and the snow of the seasons. She insisted though, so I gave in.

We drove back to my house and parked in the driveway. I brought her inside the house first in another attempt to distract her from going. I worried if she might be upset if the cabin had been ruined, and I also didn't want her to overexert herself.

I got us a couple sodas and asked if she wanted something to eat but she said no. I asked if she wanted to watch a movie or work on some homework. Her response was to place her hands on her hips, raise an eyebrow at me, and remind me she still wanted to go. Reluctantly, I guided her out the back door and led her down the path to the cabin.

Like I suspected, the cabin was in more disarray than it was the last time we were out here, but it wasn't entirely destroyed. I pushed a few fallen branches out of the way to clear a path to the door. Even though the outside looked bad, the inside was just about the same as we left it. There was nothing special about it. Bella just added some of her personal touches to make it look nicer, and we dragged an old mattress out here to put on the makeshift bed frame left behind.

When we walked in, I could see the smile on her face, like she felt at home. She touched some of our old things we had collected here and picked up a picture of the two of us from a couple years ago. She shivered against the cold breeze coming through the door. I wrapped my arms around her from behind in an attempt to warm her a little. "Do you want me to make a fire?" I asked. This was always my queue on whether she wanted to stay for a while or only planned to stay for a few minutes. She nodded her head and smiled back at me. I quickly grabbed a couple dry logs from the corner and put them in the fireplace to get the fire going. She sat down on the bed and wrapped her arms around herself. After the fire was going, I walked over and sat down next to her, wrapping my own arm around her and pulling her closer into my arms. I kissed her gently on the temple, which made her smile and lean into me further.

"You should come over for dinner tonight," she suggested. "My dad was asking about you the other day."

I laughed and shook my head. She gave me a puzzled look like she didn't understand why I was laughing. "It's strange how your dad suddenly seems to like me."

She smiled and ducked her head. "I think you got to him when we first found out about the cancer."

"What do you mean?"

"Remember that night right after we found out and I fell asleep at your house, and then my dad showed up to get me?" she began. "Well, whatever it is you said made him think. On the way home he kept asking me all kinds of questions about whether I was happy or if I thought he was too controlling. I told him you made me happy. I don't think he liked that answer but he listened. He wanted to know if I wanted the treatment and if I was okay with the decisions they were making for me. I told him I knew they were only making decisions to help me so I would do whatever they wanted me to. I guess he didn't like that answer either because he cringed at my answer. He asked what I needed to be okay during the treatment and I said you. With a very loud groan, he agreed if it was you I needed to help me through it, he could learn to live with it. He tried to warn me you wouldn't be able to handle it and you'd end up breaking my heart, but I knew you wouldn't." I looked over at her just as she smiled up at me and hugged her arms around my waist. She leaned up and kissed me, letting her lips linger against mine. The kiss deepened into something more than we'd done in months. Her hand brushed across my stomach and ventured lower to the hem of my pants. A low moan left her throat as she tried to unbutton my pants. I instantly grabbed her hand and pulled away from the kiss.

"Bella, we can't," I said, stopping what she was trying to do.

Her shoulders dropped and her eyes glossed over with tears. "Do you not want me the same way as you did before? Is it because I'm not pretty anymore? I know I've changed but I thought you loved me anyway." Her voice sounded so sad and desperate. She didn't understand what I was trying to say.

"Bella, don't be ridiculous. I will always love you. And trust me I want you more than anything. I think about it all the time. I just don't want to hurt you in any way. I think it's too soon," I reasoned.

"Edward, my doctor said I needed to go back to my normal life. Everything I was doing before I got sick I can do now. I want to. Please," she begged leaning her forehead against my chest and placing her hands against my stomach.

"Bella," I said in an unsure voice. It's not like I didn't want to make love to her. I'd thought about almost every day for the last eight months, but I didn't think she was ready. I didn't want to hurt her.

"Please, Edward," she pleaded further, looking up into my eyes begging me to give her what she wanted. I couldn't deny her. I captured her lips with mine, kissing her gently but with an intense passion. Her fingers fumbled with the buttons of my pants while I quickly pulled off my shirt, then went to work on removing hers. After releasing the latch of her bra, I laid her back against the bed and hovered above her, tenderly kissing the soft skin of her neck and collarbone. She pushed the hem of my pants and boxers down as far as she could before moving to unbutton her own pants and remove them. My fingers traced lines across her chest and drew circles around her pink nipple causing her to arch her back into my touch and release sounds of pleasure I hadn't heard in so long. Hearing her make those sounds and seeing the slight smile on her face, made me extremely happy and pushed me on. I leaned down and swirled my tongue around her nipple, before sucking it between my lips. Her fingers found their way into the hair at the back of my neck, holding me against her and massaging her fingers into my scalp. I moaned, pressing my body into hers, wanting that friction of her body against mine I'd craved for so long. I reached down with my hand and grabbed the back of her knee to pull her legs up and placing myself in between her open legs. That's when it hit me.

"Shit!" I breathed against her skin and dropped my head against her shoulder.

"What's wrong?" she asked breathlessly.

I sat up and looked at her confused face. Her fingers were still twisted into my hair and legs pulled up to my hips.

"I didn't know this was going to happen. I didn't bring a condom," I explained.

She giggled and bit her bottom lip. "It's not really a problem anymore, Edward."

"What do you mean?"

"Did you not listen to anything my doctor said?" she asked with a mocking tone.

"I pay attention to you. What the doctor says doesn't concern me as much as you do," I admitted.

She placed her hand against my cheek and smiled lovingly up at me. "Edward, because of the chemo, I can't get pregnant. We don't really need to worry about condoms anymore."

"Are you sure?" I asked, questioning her answer.

"Yes I'm sure. Does that upset you? I mean, we've never talked about having kids or ever getting married for that matter. But if we were to get married someday, are you okay with never being able to have kids?" she wondered nervously.

"All I need is you. If we want kids, we can adopt." She smiled while I leaned back down and kissed her lips, letting my tongue slip into her mouth and brush against hers. I kissed along her chin and across her neck up to her ear, gently nipping at her earlobe. "And just so you know, I have every intention of marrying you someday," I whispered. I could feel her chest swell with joy and her mouth smile against my shoulder. Her legs wrapped around me and she moved her hips back and forth against my cock, causing a frenzy of emotion rush through me. I reached down and grabbed my cock finding her opening and pressing into her. She gasped as I entered her warmth. Her arms and legs tightened around me, pulling me even deeper inside of her. I started a steady pace as I moved in and out of her. She moaned and whispered my name against my skin. Her fingers dug into my back as I brought her closer and closer to release. I kissed the top of her head and whispered how much I loved her and how good she felt. It took all my concentration to hold off my own release until she had hers. It was an all new experience without a condom, since it was the first time without and since it had been so long since we'd had sex. But I wanted to bring her pleasure first. She needed it more than I did. I watched as her head fell back and her eyes closed, while her mouth hung open and soft moans and heavy breaths escaped. I could tell she was close, so I sped up my thrusts and gripped the bed sheets into my fists to gain some stability. When her chest rose off of the bed and she released a loud squeal while tightening her legs around me, I knew she was coming and with one last deep thrust, I released inside of her. I nearly growled and screamed myself at how amazing it felt to come inside of her without the barrier of a condom. I collapsed against her, breathless and sweaty. Her fingertips traced lines along my back while I attempted to catch my breath. She left tender kisses against my shoulder and cheek. When she whispered she loved me, I raised my head and smiled down at her before pressing my lips to hers. Her fingers ventured from my back and down my sides, causing me to chuckle from the tickling sensation. She giggled back and continued to tickle me, making me wiggle free from her capture. The look on her face was pure joy. I loved that face and never wanted to forget it.

We stayed at the cabin for a while longer, wrapped in each other's arms and watching the fire die down. I couldn't have been happier in that peaceful and intimate moment we shared without a care in the world. There was no cancer, no parents to worry about, no fear of anything; just us.

After the fire was most of the way out, we got dressed and headed back to my house. I drove Bella home and stayed for dinner that night. I talked to Charlie about the Super Bowl coming up and made a bet with him about what team would win. Before I left that night Bella and I kissed for a very long time on her front porch. She whispered in my ear, thanking me for the wonderful day we shared. I left that night feeling like I was on top of the world and nothing could ever bring me down. Everything was perfect again.

Months went by and at every doctor appointment Bella's tests came back negative. We made it through our junior year of school and spent the summer being carefree and crazy in love. We fixed up the cabin even more that summer and spent quite a bit of time there making love and just being together. Most days when we were supposedly fixing it up we ended up just making love and forgetting everything else. I loved being with her and couldn't imagine ever being apart from her. She was my world, my everything.

Our senior year started out great. We had most of the same classes and spent a lot of our free time discussing what colleges to attend and filling out applications. We planned to go together to whatever college accepted both of us. I would not spend one day without her. Both my parents and her parents tried to tell us we needed to be open to the possibility of attending separate colleges in case there wasn't one that took us both. But we had our minds made up. We weren't going to be separated.

If only college was the worst of our problems for senior year. In December, Bella went in for her routine tests to make sure the cancer wasn't returning. We assumed everything would be fine. She was feeling great and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, we were wrong. We sat in the doctor's office waiting for him to come in and give us the test results. Charlie and Renee sat on opposite sides of us, clearly meaning they weren't getting along but were hiding it the best they could for Bella's sake. Bella and I sat between them and held hands, laughing about something that happened at school the day before when the doctor walked in. We were all silent when he sat down and didn't look at us with that familiar smile that meant everything was fine. My heart sunk and my breath caught in my lungs at what I knew was coming. Bella's hand gripped mine tightly as she braced herself for the same bad news. Renee gasped and raised her hand to her mouth before the doctor even said anything.

"There's a problem, Bella," he said. My head jerked to the side to watch her reaction and prepare myself to hold and comfort her.

"How bad is it?" she asked, clearly trying to hold in the sobs.

"Well, we caught it at an early enough stage so we can fight it again. You fought it before and I have no doubt you can do it again. However, that isn't exactly the problem. You're pregnant, Bella."

"What?" all four of us said in unison. My first reaction was to look at Charlie. All this process of getting him to accept me was instantly down the drain. I could see Charlie's jaw line tighten and his nostrils flare. He wasn't happy.

"I thought you said I couldn't get pregnant?" Bella asked.

"I said it's highly unlikely you'll ever be able to have children. Most of the time the medication we pump through your body makes you infertile, but I've seen it happen to women in the past. I assume this wasn't something you planned."

Bella started crying and leaned into my shoulder for comfort. I knew she wasn't upset about the pregnancy exactly; she was upset about what her parents thought of her and what their reaction would be. Renee sobbed into her hands, while Charlie continued to let the anger build. Even with all the fear of what this meant and what might happen to me when we left here, my only concern was Bella. I soothed her hair back and shushed her, telling her it would all be okay.

"Bella," the doctor continued after giving all of us a moment to come to terms with all this news. "The thing is you can't do chemo while pregnant. It will hurt the baby. It's up to you what you want to do, but I'm suggesting you terminate the pregnancy as soon as possible so you can begin treatments and start fighting again."

"We'll terminate the pregnancy immediately," Renee chimed in making the decision for Bella.

"For once we agree," Charlie added. "Who do we see about having this done in a timely manner?"

I listened to the doctor give Charlie and Renee the information of a doctor nearby we could go see immediately. Bella continued to cry in the crook of my arm and didn't say anything.

"Thank you," Charlie said, standing to his feet and shaking the doctor's hand. "We'll take care of this problem if you'll arrange for the treatments to begin in Forks."

"Of course," he agreed.

Renee stood and came to Bella's side to help her to her feet. I tried to help her up but she wouldn't move.

"Bella?" I motioned, again trying to get her to stand.

Her head rose suddenly, and she sucked in a quick breath. "I'm not doing it," she blurted.

"What!" I gasped. She turned her head to look at me with sympathetic eyes.

"I can't kill our baby. I can't, Edward."

"You have to. If you don't you can't get your treatments and you'll get worse," I argued.

"Then I'll get worse," she said.

"Bella, you are not keeping this baby," Charlie ordered.

"Yes I am," she said firmly. "I'm eighteen, you can't tell me what to do anymore. I can make my own decisions and I'm keeping the baby."

"Bella," Renee pleaded.

"After the baby is born I'll do whatever you want me to do. I'll pump my body full of whatever poison you want me to, but I'm not taking anything until after the baby is born. I've fought it once. I can do it again whether I start now or later." Her mind was made up and nothing was going to change it. As much as I wanted to support whatever her decision was, I didn't when it came to this. If she didn't get the treatment she would die.

The drive home was silent and anger filled the atmosphere. Even I was angry. I stared out my window and tried to pretend what was happening wasn't real. Bella tried to reach out for my hand at one point and I jerked it away. I had never denied her once in our entire relationship but this I couldn't let go. She was going to kill herself for the life of a child.

Everyone tried to convince her to change her mind. Even Alice and my own parents tried to reason with her. She wouldn't budge though. She was sure she could have this baby and then fight afterwards. She considered the baby a blessing and something made out of love. Her decision put a huge strain on our relationship and even her parents barely spoke to her. She had no one on her side supporting her decision. Deep down I wanted to support her, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I still loved her with all my heart, but I couldn't accept what she was doing to herself. What she was doing to all of us.

She went to her obstetrician appointments with her mom throughout the nine months, while I stayed away. She begged me to come with her to the ultrasound. At first I didn't want to, but then Charlie came to visit me and had a heart to heart with me about how much she needed me. She was trying to be strong and do this on her own, but she was scared. He reminded me of the night I told him how he needed to think of her and not himself, and I needed to do the same thing. His words hit me hard, so I finally put my own feelings aside and decided to support her as best I could. I swore I would never leave her and I would be there to take care of her forever. Then the first time something didn't go my way, I left her alone. I hated myself for doing that to her and vowed to change it no matter how much it hurt me.

I went with her to the ultrasound where we discovered she was having a girl. Bella looked so happy staring at the monitor and seeing our baby's little heartbeat and her feet kicking. I hadn't seen Bella that happy in a long time. Bella loved that baby even though it was killing her. I hid my own feelings as best I could and tried to express my happiness at having a baby with Bella. Our relationship was still strained but I loved her too much to leave her alone.

Around seven months pregnant, Bella collapsed at home. She was rushed to the hospital and the doctors wanted to keep her for a while to be sure the fall didn't hurt the baby. I stayed right by her side praying every moment she would be okay. I hate to admit it, but I even prayed something would go wrong with the baby so she could try to save herself.

The reason for her collapse was because the leukemia was taking over her body at a rapid rate and making her weak. She couldn't keep herself and the baby alive for much longer.

"The baby isn't strong enough yet," she argued when her doctor wanted to deliver the baby early. "Give me another month and then you can you deliver."

"Bella, please," I begged. "You need to fight for you now."

"It's too soon. I won't deliver yet," she said firmly.

Her doctors decided it would be best for her to stay in the hospital to be monitored for the remainder of her pregnancy. They agreed to wait as long as they could, but if it got too bad they would be forced to take the baby before her body killed them both. I never left her side.

Late one night, I woke up to Bella sobbing. I sat up and grabbed her hand.

"What's wrong? Do you want me to get a doctor?" I asked frantically.

"No," she cried. "I need to talk to you." I nodded my head and moved closer to her side. "I need you to promise me you'll love her. I know you resent her and wish I had chosen to have the abortion, but we created her out of love and she deserves to be loved. She's my miracle. She needs her daddy."

"You make it through this and I'll love you both forever," I promised, fighting back the tears.

She shook her head. "Promise me even if I don't make it you'll still love her. I have to know she'll be taken care of and she'll know who I am even if I'm not here. You know me better than anyone. I want her to be with you. Promise me."

I swallowed against the lump in my throat and nodded my head in agreement. Part of me didn't want to agree, but I did for her. I rested my head against her shoulder, holding her hand in mine while I sobbed at the thought of her leaving me. Her other hand reached across and soothed my hair back. She shouldn't have been comforting me. I should have been comforting her. I crawled up on the bed and held her frail body in my arms trying to convey how much I loved her and would do absolutely anything for her.

Days later Bella got worse and they prepped her for a C-section. I got suited up in scrubs and sat next to her, holding her hand while the doctor cut her open and pulled the fragile baby out of her. She weighed less than five pounds and was struggling to breathe on her own. They took her to the NICU while they sewed Bella up and moved her to a recovery room. After a few hours a nurse brought the baby in, even though she had tubes connected to her, and placed the baby at Bella's side. She was too weak to even hold the baby in her arms. She cried and laughed at seeing her tiny little face. She kept gesturing for me to hold her too but I couldn't. I insisted she needed to bond with her mommy. I watched as Bella smiled down at the baby and soothed her fingers across the baby's red cheeks. The baby's fingers gripped around Bella's finger making her cry. The small baby brought the life back into Bella and made her happy again. Bella gently kissed the baby on the forehead and hugged her to her chest while she closed her eyes and rested. She only held the baby for about an hour before the nurse took her back to the NICU. After the baby was gone, Bella reached for my hand and looked me directly in the eyes. "Promise me," she whispered.

"I promise," I cried.

Bella slipped in and out of consciousness over the next couple of days. Her oncologist had a series of tests ran and told us there wasn't a lot more they could do. The cancer had spread so much through her body it wasn't possible to fight it any longer. We needed to prepare ourselves for her death.

I sobbed uncontrollably as did Charlie and Renee. I couldn't let her go. It was too hard. I begged God to take me instead. I begged him to give her another chance. I prayed for a miracle, but it never came.

After being unresponsive for over a week, her parents chose to pull the plug. I sat by her side and held her hand for the last time while I listened to the sounds of the machines keeping her alive slowly begin to fade into nothing. I watched as the forced movement of her chest got shallower and shallower until it stopped completely. The only person I would ever love was gone.

I cried for days and refused to see anyone. I locked myself away in my room at home and didn't have any intention of going to the funeral. I couldn't be there to say goodbye in front of everyone.

About a week after the funeral, Charlie and Renee came by my house. I didn't want to face them but my mom insisted I needed to see them. I took a deep breath and walked downstairs to see Renee and Charlie sitting on the couch with my dad and sister sitting across from them and my mom holding the baby in her arms while rocking her back and forth and making cooing noise at her. I had to turn my head away from the baby. I couldn't look at her. I was tempted to run back upstairs.

"Edward," Charlie called. Everyone turned towards me waiting for me to join them in the living room. Reluctantly, I walked in and sat down in a chair and stared at the floor.

"It's good to see you, Edward," Renee said. "We've been planning to come by for a while but we had a lot of arrangements to make and the baby just got out of the hospital a couple days ago. She's actually why we're here."

"Edward, do you want to hold her?" my mom asked. I shook my head and closed my eyes trying to fight the tears.

"She needs a name," Charlie interrupted, "and a father. Bella left us explicit instructions explaining you were to take care of the baby. You are supposed to give her a name and be her sole guardian."

"If you don't want to or don't feel like you can, we will be happy to step in and take over custody," Renee added. I heard Charlie grumble and remind her they agreed to follow their daughter's wishes. I honestly didn't care if they took over custody or not.

"Edward, hold her," Alice demanded giving me a stern look. I looked around at all the faces staring at me and waiting for me to say or do something. My mom moved closer to me and held the baby out to my arms. As carefully as I could, I took the baby and looked down at her. She had Bella's almond shaped eyes and long eyelashes, the little amount of hair she had was the same color as Bella's, she had the same nose and mouth as Bella did. She was the smaller version of Bella in every way. I remembered memorizing all those same features on Bella and reminding myself how much I loved her. The baby yawned and stretched her neck before opening her eyes and looking up at me. When our eyes met, the sound of Bella's voice hit me. "Promise me you'll love her." I broke down and started to cry again, bringing the baby closer to my chest and holding her tightly. My mom came over and tried to take her from me but I wouldn't let her go. I made a promise to Bella and I planned to keep it. I planned to love this baby like I loved Bella.

It took some adjustments, but I learned how to be a dad. I named her Ella after her mom and turned my room into a nursery. I did everything for her and made sure she had all the love I had for Bella. She was my world now. Bella was gone, but she left a part of herself with me. I had to take care of her like I did Bella.

When Ella was about three months old, I took her out to the cabin her mother loved so much for the first time. It was too hard to go out there any other time but I was slowly learning how to go on. I needed to face it and bring Ella out there. I walked in the small room and looked around at all of our old little treasures, showing Ella what each thing was and telling her about their memory. I knew she was too young to understand, but I made a promise and I planned to make sure Ella knew every detail of her mom. I sat down on the bed and let Ella play with one of her toys next to me. My fingers traced across the sheets and remembered all the times Bella and I had made love on that bed and how Ella was probably conceived right there. I smelled the sheets hoping they may still hold some of Bella's scent. That's when I saw a small envelope underneath the pillow. I pulled it out and looked at it. On the front was my name written out in Bella's handwriting. I had no idea how it got there but I held it to my chest and closed my eyes. I wanted to open it right then, but I didn't. I couldn't read it while Ella was with me.

I carried her home and put her down for a nap. I asked Alice to watch Ella and left for a little while. I drove to the local cemetery and found Bella's grave. I had never actually been there since she died, but something told me I needed to be with her when I read the letter. I sat down in front of her gravestone, tracing over her name with my fingers before I opened up the envelope and began to read what it said.

Dear Edward,

Remember your promise and I will be with you forever.

I love you,


My breath hitched in my throat as I read those simple words over and over again. Tears rolled down my cheeks, falling on the paper and smudging the writing. In that moment I felt as if she was actually with me. I felt her warmth and I could smell her sweet smell. I could hear her voice reminding me of my promise and telling me she'd love me forever. My eyes glanced up from the paper and in front of me was her engraved name on the stone. I placed my forehead against her name. "I promise, Bella," I whispered. "I'll love her and I'll love you, forever."